53. Holy Rosary Catholic, 1885

Now Three Holy Women Catholic
2011 North Oakland Avenue (north of Lafayette Street)
Architect: Edward Townsend Mix

Holy Rosary Catholic
Holy Rosary Catholic

The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee established Holy Rosary Parish in 1884, as the second territorial parish on the city’s East Side. The parish boundaries were formed by a reduction in the territory of St. John’s Cathedral Parish to the south. (The other two Catholic parishes on the East Side at this time, St. Mary’s and St. Hedwig’s, were national parishes serving German and Polish immigrants, respectively.) As a territorial parish with services in English, Holy Rosary mainly served Irish immigrants and American-born descendants of Irish immigrants.

Holy Rosary is a rare example of a Queen Anne style church. The style was popular in the United States from the late 1870s into the first decade of the twentieth century, but was used primarily for residential buildings. Queen Anne houses typically have complex massing as well as steeply pitched, complex roof forms with multiple gables. The exterior walls often combine two or more different materials, with wood shingles frequently used to give the walls a textured rather than smooth appearance. The rectory adjacent to the church is a typical example of a Queen Anne style residence. It was built at the same time as the church and was presumably also designed by Edward Townsend Mix. The church has a less complex form than the rectory, because of its function as an assembly space, but matches the rectory in its materials, colors, and wood trim. Some visual complexity is added to the simple form of the church by the front porch, the projecting top portion of the front gable, and the open wood belfry. The belfry is unlike that of any other church in Milwaukee.

Holy Rosary Catholic
Holy Rosary Catholic

Holy Rosary is located less than a mile from St. Hedwig’s on Humboldt Avenue at Brady Street. Just five blocks southwest of St. Hedwig’s is St. Rita’s Catholic Church, established in 1933 to serve the growing number of Italians in this part of the city. These three parishes, formerly serving Catholics speaking three different languages, were merged into a single parish in 2000, now called Three Holy Women Parish. (Holy Rosary is dedicated to Mary, Queen of the Rosary.) The new parish conducts all services in English but continues to use all three of the historic churches.

Szczesny-Adams, Christy. Cosmopolitan Design in the Upper Midwest: the Nineteenth Century Architecture of Edward Townsend Mix. Ph. D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 2007.